The ForestFit certification pilot is seeking forest businesses across Australia to participate, as expressed in the invitation for interest that was announced on 30 July 2021.
This certification pilot is a collaboration between Ernst and Young and the Australian Forest Contractors Association, aiming to promote the best practices and risk management by establishing certification standards and criteria that align with industry standards and regulatory requirements.
The development of the certification program is industry-led and designed to align, whenever possible, with existing schemes, regulatory requirements, Australian Standards, and industry codes of practice.
The Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) General Manager, Ms Stacey Gardiner explains:
“AFCA is excited to have reached this point in the ForestFit project, and the certification pilot is key to testing the standards and criteria with a range of different forest contracting businesses before the national rollout.”
“One of the key objectives of the ForestFit certification is to create efficiencies and opportunities for a ‘deemed to comply’ with existing auditing programs and schemes, ultimately reducing costs while providing confidence that certified businesses are operating to a high standard.”
The certification Standards to be piloted include:
- Standard 1: General requirements (mandatory)
- Standard 2: Business sustainability
- Standard 3: Work, health and safety
- Standard 4: Environmental practices
Breakdown of participants in the pilot
In total 15 businesses will be invited to participate in the trial – a combination of native and plantation areas, they will be broken down into the following locations:
- New South Wales (4)
- Victoria (5)
- Queensland (2)
- South Australia (3)
- Tasmania (1)
The pilot offers a unique opportunity for forest contracting businesses to showcase their safe, environmentally friendly, and sustainable practices within the forest industry.
Chris Mangan, who was part of the Industry Reference Group explains:
“ForestFit is being developed with substantial input from industry representatives and forest contractors like me, who have informed every stage of the certification development.”
“As part of the ForestFit Industry Reference Group, we are excited to have reached the pilot stage of certification and look forward to having ForestFit create efficiencies across our industry.”
Establishing a national set of standards
The pilot will provide a pathway for ForestFit to establish a national set of standards guiding forest contracting businesses.
According to Michael Clancy, G&J Groves, the push towards national standards is long overdue – not only for forest contractors but the broader forest products industry.
“Establishing a set of agreed national standards for the industry provides a clear path forward as we adapt to more complex and demanding business process changes, reporting and compliance requirements.”
Melissa Hayward, HR Forestry, continues:
“ForestFit Certification is another way for us to demonstrate and reinforce to industry the amount of expertise, knowledge and experience that underpins forest contracting business operations and drives our decision making and continuous improvement.”
Workplace Health and Safety pilot in Queensland
Capitalising on the work of ForestFit, an additional five forest businesses operating in Queensland State native forest are participating in the pilot of the Queensland WHS Standard – funded by the QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).
Participants include a number of timber processors that undertake harvest and haul operations through a combination of their own staff and contractors.
The feedback and input of those participating in the pilot will influence the following:
- WHS process to be implemented in State authorised forest harvesting operations
- Final certification framework, processes and criteria for national roll out of the WHS Standard.
EOI closing soon for ForestFit pilot
The Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) is urging all forest contracting businesses to express their interest by 16 August 2021 by submitting an EOI.
A selection panel will then evaluate all EOI’s based on specific criteria to ensure that the pilot covers a diverse range of business sizes and operations across the country.
The certification pilot is scheduled to occur between September and December of this year.
To participate, interested parties should visit the ForestFit website, where they can download the EOI form and submit their interest to AFCA.
- With extracts from Daily Timber Biz